Gatzaros’ Cert Petition against Sault Tribe Denied

Here is today’s order list.

We posted the petition and related materials here.

Gatzaros v. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Cert Petition


Gatzaros Cert Petition

Questions presented:

1. Whether the Majority Opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit conflicts with the decisions of this Supreme Court and other Circuit Courts of Appeals, thereby changing the well-established rules of contract construction which require specific contract provisions govern over general provisions to resolve disputes caused by two conflicting contract provisions?
2. Whether the Majority Opinion is in direct conflict with the decisions of this Supreme Court, other Circuit Courts of Appeals and the fundamental rules of contract construction which require the application of extrinsic evidence when there is an ambiguity caused by conflicting contractual language?
3. Whether the Majority Opinion, in upholding the judicial rewriting of paragraph 8 of the Guaranty, is in direct conflict with the decisions of this Supreme Court and the other Circuit Courts of Appeals which have held the courts must give effect to contracts as written by the parties, and cannot rewrite them?
4. Whether the Majority’s failure to find the Respondents waived their contract defenses contradicts established case law in the other Circuit Courts of Appeals that a guaranty is a contract which must be enforced as written?
5. Whether the Majority’s Opinion conflicts with the well-settled standard for reviewing a Motion to Dismiss under Fed.Civ. R. 12(b)(6) when it failed to view the facts in the light most favorable to the Petitioners or accept their well-pled allegations?

Lower court materials here.


Fifth Circuit Decides Bankruptcy Matter Involving Interpretation of Navajo Law

Here are the materials in In the Matter of Vallecito Gas LLC (Morton v. Yonkers):

Appellant Brief

Kievit Appellees Brief

Appellant Reply Brief

CA5 Opinion

This is a Chapter 11 bankruptcy trustee who was trying to void overriding royalty interests purchased by third parties from a Navajo Tribe, but without approval by the Navajo Nation as per the Navajo Code.  The Court agreed with the Bankruptcy Court that the Trustee could not raise the lack of Navajo approval as an impediment to the validity of the underlying transfer of the overriding royalty interests.  Although the Navajo Code requires the approval from the Navajo Nation for such transfers, the Court reasoned that because the Navajo Code does not serve to protect the Trustee’s interests, but rather to protect the Navajo Nation from exploitation, the Trustee was not permitted to raise the lack of approval.

Split Sixth Circuit Panel Rules in Favor of Sault Tribe in $74 Million Contract Dispute

Here are the materials in Gatzaros v. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians:

Gatzaros Opening Brief

Sault Tribe Brief

Gatzaros Reply Brief

CA6 Opinion

The parties have litigated in bankruptcy court, too — see here.

Sixth Circuit Issues Opinion in In re Greektown Holdings Bankruptcy Adversary Proceeding

Here is the opinion in In re Greektown Holdings LLC (Papas v. Buchwald Capital Advisors, LLC):

Papas – Gatzaros Brief

Buckwald Capital Advisors Brief

Sault Tribe Brief

Papas – Gatzaros Reply Brief

An excerpt:

At issue in this appeal is a claims bar order entered in an adversary proceeding connected with the bankruptcy of Greektown Holdings, LLC. The appellants, the Papases and Gatzaroses, and two of the appellees, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the Kewadin Casinos Gaming Authority, are defendants in a fraudulent transfer action that was brought in federal bankruptcy court by Buchwald Capital Advisors, LLC. Buchwald Capital Advisors is the trustee of the Greektown Litigation Trust and an appellee in this appeal. The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe and the Kewadin Casinos Gaming Authority agreed to settle with Buchwald Capital Advisors. However, they conditioned the settlement upon the entry of an order that would bar any claims against them “arising out of or reasonably flowing from” either the fraudulent transfer proceeding or the allegedly fraudulent transfers themselves. The Papases and Gatzaroses objected to this requested order, but when they could not come up with any viable claims that would be enjoined by the bar order, the district court approved the settlement and entered the bar order. A short time later, the Papases and Gatzaroses filed a motion for reconsideration in which they detailed additional claims that they feared might be barred by the order. The district court denied their motion.

On appeal, the Papases and Gatzaroses argue that the bar order was improper and also contend that the district court abused its discretion when it denied their motion for reconsideration. The district court was clearly acting within its discretion when it denied the motion for reconsideration, so we affirm its order denying reconsideration. But the bar order itself raises several interesting questions of first impression in this Circuit. These questions concern the district court’s jurisdiction and power to enter the bar order and the proper scope of such an order. Unfortunately, these issues have not been adequately  briefed and argued by the parties and were not addressed below. We therefore remand  this case to the district court and instruct the district court to reevaluate the bar order under the guidance provided in this opinion.